All parties see they cannot afford to end peace process

Published 17.11.2014 19:05
Updated 17.11.2014 19:42

The reconciliation process between the Turkish government and Kurdish militants in Turkey is on course not because the sides are taking substantive steps, but because both sides fully understand that they simply cannot afford ending it.

The last one-and-a-half years has shown the valuable dividends of the reconciliation process that manifest in the positive atmosphere created throughout the country and especially in eastern and southeastern Turkey and that whoever tries to spoil it will be condemned by both Turkish and Kurdish public opinion.

On Monday a delegation of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) met with Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan and it is clear that while the sides voiced their support for continued dialogue to speed up the process, they also agreed to disagree and try to mend fences after the recent incidents where militant Kurds took to the streets to allegedly protest the so-called inaction of the government on the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) attacks on Kurds in the Syrian city of Kobani just across the Turkish border.

The fact that the sides announced that dialogue will continue means that there is some disagreement on how to proceed with the peace process as Kurds are pushing the government to announce more practical measures to speed up the process while Ankara has sais that first public order has to be restored and maintained before it can make any move.

Ankara is justified in its reservations as the HDP is pushing for new measures. Just as the two sides met in Ankara there were reports that Kurdish militants were back in action in at least three locations in southeastern Turkey instigating violence and creating serious disruptions. This is a clear provocation that has to be stopped.

The government cannot sell this process to the Turkish public while such violence and disruptions continue. People will rightfully question the merits of such a process when the actions of Kurdish militants are not only embarrassing the government but also create question marks in the minds of many Turks.

We also have to start thinking about involving the PKK leadership, who are holed up in northern Iraq's Qandil Mountains, in the peace and reconciliation process. It seems while they are unhappy with what is going on, they are grudgingly pretending to go along with the wishes of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan who is serving a life sentence in the prison on İmralı Island and thus keeping the process alive. They are aware of the massive popularity of Öcalan among the Kurdish masses of southeastern Turkey and do not want to be seen challenging this. However, they seem to have concerns about their own futures and wish this to become clearer. This means that while they are forced to accept the reconciliation process, they want to know what will become of them. They see that while their militants will eventually descend from the mountains and integrate into Turkish society, they will not be that fortunate. They want some kind of guarantee of their future well-being and it seems we have to appease them in some form or another if we do not want them to sabotage the process.

Both the Turkish government and Öcalan should address the issue for the sake of this process.

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